Sep 282013

Washington Redskins (0-3) at Oakland Raiders (1-2)

Terrelle Pryor has not technically been named the starter at quarterback for the Raiders in this one, after suffering a concussion this week, but he’s passed all of the NFL’s tests and is going to take one precautionary test before the game before the Raiders clear him. I’d be pretty surprised if he was held out of this one. Besides, I like the Redskins anyway this week and if he’s held out in favor of noodle armed pocket passer Matt Flynn, it’ll only give the Redskins an even better chance of winning and covering this 3.5 point spread.

The Redskins may be 0-3, but they had their best performance of the season last week at home for Detroit. Robert Griffin will only get better from here on out as he continues to get his legs back under him. Last week was his best performance of the season, at least in terms of how he looked in the pocket, running, and throwing the football. He completed 32 of 50 for 326 yards and a pick, with 37 yards on 6 carries in a game that was close throughout.

He’ll probably have his best performance of the season this week, not just because he’ll have another week under his belt in his return, but because of how terrible Oakland’s defense is. They are easily a bottom-5 unit and that should be reflected in the amount of points they surrender by season’s end. After beating a hapless Jacksonville team at home 19-9, the Raiders were blown out in Denver last week.

Even the final score of 37-21 doesn’t tell how big of a blowout it was. The Broncos had 31 first downs to just 1 punt, while the Raiders had 13 first downs and punted 6 times. The Raiders actually won the turnover battle by 2, recovering both of the Broncos’ fumbles, both of which were pretty unforced. Teams who win the turnover battle by 2 win, on average, 82.1% of the time and outscore opponents by 9.64 points per game. They hung with the Colts week 1, but the Colts had 7 wins by 7 points or less against 7 win or worse teams in 2012, so that’s not really saying much. The 2-14 Chiefs hung with the Colts in 2012 and the 2-14 Jaguars beat them.

The Raiders are the first team the Redskins will play where they have a clear talent advantage. This means they will be able to run their game plan like they’d like. They’ve gotten down early in all 3 of their games thus far this season and have had to abandon the read option and other quarterback runs, as well as their power running game with Alfred Morris, for that reason. The 2012 Redskins ran the ball 519 times to 442 passes, but the 2013 Redskins have run just 57 times to 139 passes. It’s not like Alfred Morris has been bad, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He just hasn’t gotten the opportunity. It won’t surprise me at all if the Redskins rushed for over 200 yards in this game and completely took things over.

The trends favor the Redskins as well. The Raiders are home dogs before being home dogs. Inferior teams are prime candidates for upsets when they have an upcoming lull in the schedule and/or when their opponent has an upcoming daunting matchup to distract them. That’s not the case here at all. The Raiders have a home game against the Chargers next week, while the Redskins go on bye. Home dogs are 33-49 ATS since 2008 before being home dogs again and 12-25 ATS since 2002 as non-divisional home dogs before being divisional home dogs. Meanwhile, the Redskins will be completely focused against an inferior opponent with an off week next week. Since 2002, teams are 61-27 ATS as either 7+ point home favorites or 3.5+ point road favorites before a bye. They should win this one easily.

Washington Redskins 31 Oakland Raiders 20

Pick against spread: Washington -3.5

Confidence: Medium

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